A Very Strong Appetite to Develop Some Facility with Assessment

J.D. Phillips, Wabash College

While I have no particular expertise in assessment, I do have a very strong appetite to develop some facility with assessment. Like most of my peers, I devote the lion's share of my professional energies toward teaching and research. My training also focused on these two activities, especially the latter. As with most mathematicians, formal assessment was simply not part of my training. However, I now find myself in a position--first time chair of a department, at a new institution, no less--that demands I devote a considerable amount of my efforts toward assessment. At Wabash College, department chairs coordinate an annual departmental assessment that focuses largely on student assessment. Assessment of student learning also plays a role in tenure and promotion decisions at Wabash. And of course, as chair I have a rather direct involvement in this. In addition to this, I have a more immediate and pressing motivation to develop some assessment skills and insights--next year I will coordinate an external review of my department that will focus, at least in part, on assessment.

So all this to say that while I am not an assessment expert (in fact, I'm an assessment neophyte), I have a strong desire to begin learning about assessment, especially about incorporating assessment into the regular activities of the department, and not "marginalizing" it to an irregular and pro forma exercise.